I guess I should apologies for having been away for the last week. We have had a family holiday away in Norfolk. I had grand ideas of continuing as per usual with my blog project of cooking a different roast chicken recipe once a week. I was going to escape for a day and browse through lovely local delis and green grocers to source the ingredients for my recipe of the week. I thought I would be able to find a cafe where I could sit and connect to their WiFi and load my post up. Needless to say, this didn’t happen. I did take some ingredients that I needed from my cupboards intending to just buy the fresh bits once we arrived. I was unable to take my laptop and stupidly didn’t take the recipes with me that I needed. I naively thought that I would be able to just pick them up online. I have visited Norfolk many times but I seemed to fail to remember that there is absolutely no internet connection or phone signal whatsoever. After a couple of days, I decided to give up and just have a week off from the blog. I can do the recipe I intended for our holiday this week.
The recipe that I have chosen is Spanish Style Roast Chicken. I found the recipe on The Independent website but the recipe is actually taken from ‘Cook on a Shoestring’ by Sophie Wright. I picked this because I had had visions of being able to sit outside until late into the Summer evenings having a long lazy supper with a good bottle of wine and I think the recipe is packed full of summer flavours. As I said, we were in Norfolk. We had great weather but for three evenings in a row it chucked it down with rain for a short while at six o’clock. Also, it was just a little too chilly come supper time to be sitting outside for any length of time. Never mind, we had a lovely time anyway. Obviously I had several crab sandwiches while we were out and about but the best one was at a great little find, the cafe at Wiveton Hall. When we decided to drop by for our lunch here, I was only expecting something fairly basic and plain so I was very pleasantly surprised and excited when we pulled up to a fantastic place with a wonderful menu full of dishes made from local produce. The cafe is situated between strawberry fields with beautiful views across the marshes, out to sea. You could sit there for hours while you graze through your lunch followed by a big scrumptious piece of cake. They also do pick your own fruit and you can even stay in self catering accommodation here. I might look into this for some point in the future. I wish I had known about it before as it looks like a great place to stay. If you are ever in the area, I can highly recommend visiting Wiveton Hall for something to eat.
So we are back after a week away and all seem very happy to be home. It’s always great to be on holiday but even better to be back in your own bed. We had a lovely time away. We didn’t really do too much. We have visited the area many times before so there isn’t any great need to rush around doing lots of touristy things. What I love about the area is that every time we go, we always do something completely new and have a different experience. We spent a fair bit of time attempting to catch crabs in Blakeney. We caught about eight one day but they were only teeny weeny ones. Other people around us seemed to be catching big monstrous crabs but we were very happy with our little ones. We had the best time at Holkham Hall one day. Holkham is a vast, stunning estate. We only went to let the boys have a play on their new woodland play area for a while but ended up staying for the whole day. It was fantastically dog friendly, which was great for us as our working cocker spaniel Brian was with us. You can hire bikes for a couple of hours and explore the estate and deer park. We really enjoyed our day here and had one of the best ice creams of the week. I chose raspberry and champagne flavour. I had to queue for at least 20 minutes for it but it was definitely worth the wait.
So although I tried to pick a summery recipe to eat “al fresco”, the weather here at the moment is decidedly chilly so we ate as usual, indoors. I failed at making a crusty loaf of bread for mopping up flavoursome juices the other week but I am very pleased to say that for once I managed to achieve this. I know I put the recipe for this bread in my previous post but I have posted it again anyway. I cannot recommend it more. I have been feeling a bit tired and jaded today after our trip away. It has been the usual, getting everything unpacked and mountains of laundry washed. Preparing this meal certainly woke me up. Baking the bread was satisfying as usual and rubbing the vibrant paprika red butter all over the chicken was very uplifting.
The chicken was beautiful. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. I used hot smoked paprika as that was what I had in the cupboard. Unless you like your food quite spicy, I would recommend perhaps sticking to the regular smoked paprika. My chicken came out quite hot. My husband and I quite liked it this way but my poor nine year old kept munching his way through his dinner despite the heat, guzzling lots of water in between mouthfuls. Bless him, I said he could leave it if it was too hot for him but he seemed to like it enough to keep going. I think I could have done with letting the vegetables roast for a bit longer. I would have rather them a little more golden. I actually halved the ingredients listed below so had to adjust cooking times as well. Overall though, it was a very successful recipe. I can highly recommend cooking it. I just wish I had been able to make it on holiday.
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, weighing 2.25kg
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the roasted vegetables
2 red peppers, cut into 5cm pieces
2 red onions, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons pitted black olives
500g baby new potatoes
125g cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. Cut the butter into small pieces and put in a bowl. Add the paprika, lemon zest, oregano and garlic and squish all the ingredients together until the butter is soft and everything is well incorporated. Season the butter with salt and pepper. Rub the butter all over the skin of the chicken and under the skin if you wish.
Remove the string or elastic from the chicken and put it in a deep roasting tin. Drizzle the chicken with the olive oil and put in the oven for 10 minutes before turning the oven down to 190C/Gas 5. Remember to baste the chicken with the butter, some of which will have melted into the baking tray, every 20–30 minutes.
To make the roasted vegetables place all the vegetables in a large bowl and coat well in the paprika, oregano, salt and pepper and the olive oil.
Once the chicken has cooked for 40 minutes, take it out of the oven and scatter the veggies around the outside. This will be a good time to baste the bird again and coat all the vegetables in the juices. Put the tray back into the oven and cook for the remaining 45 minutes. If the vegetables are over-colouring, put a sheet of kitchen foil over the baking tray for the final 20 minutes of cooking.
When the time is up, check that everything is cooked perfectly, remove the chicken from the roasting tin and leave it to rest for at least 10 minutes. Keep the vegetables warm in a low oven. Carve and serve with the vegetables and all the lovely cooking juices.
Zopako (or soup bread)
A good everyday crisp loaf with lots of crust and very little crumb. When it’s fresh, you can slice it thinly and serve with a little ham for a simple pintxos, or even just as table bread.
350ml water, somewhere between tepid and cold
¼ tsp fast-action yeast
525g 00 flour, plus extra for shaping
50g spelt, wholemeal or more 00 flour
2 tsp fine salt
Pour the water into a large bowl, stir in the yeast, then add the flours and salt. Mix to a firm dough, then lightly knead for 10 seconds, until evenly mixed. Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm to keep in the moisture and leave at room temperature for 12 hours (overnight is probably easiest, assuming you have time to bake the next morning), by which time it should have doubled in volume; if not, leave until it does.
Shape the dough into a stick about 30cm long with tapered ends, lay diagonally on a tray lined with nonstick paper, and cover. After about 30 minutes, uncover the dough, dust liberally with flour, then press a rolling pin firmly down the centre, so that you almost split the loaf in two, leaving it joined only by a membrane of dough right down the middle. Leave to rise again for 30 minutes, then bake at 240C (220C fan-assisted)/465F/gas mark 9 for about 20 minutes, along with a small tray of boiling water on the lowest shelf to make the oven slightly steamy. Reduce the heat to 200C (180C fan-assisted)/390F/gas mark 6 and bake for 15-25 minutes more, until crisp and the colour you like.